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There are three prime parts of an air-conditioning unit that need annual maintenance to make sure they work as efficiently as possible when those summer heatwaves hit. They are the filters, coils, and fins.
This ‘preventative’ maintenance will also extend the lifespan of the system and keep it performing as well as the day you installed it. Skip the servicing, and you’re setting yourself up for reduced comfort levels and an aircon that breaks down when you need it the most.
We tend to crank up our use of our air conditioners in summer, however. This means you may need to have your units checked throughout the summer as well as your annual service.
Rod from Peninsula Air have been installing and servicing air conditioners on Sydney’s Northern Beaches since 1999 and shares with us some tips and advice on how best to maintain your air conditioning units during the summary months.
The Issue: Clogged, Dirty Filters
In a central air conditioner, the filter will be placed somewhere in the return duct. Filters are commonly found in walls or ceilings – and even in the air conditioner. Aircons in individual rooms have a filter mounted in the grill.
Obstructions to the filter can block the optimal airflow of the system. Not only will it reduce the system’s efficiency, but it also means that dirty air can reach the evaporator coil. When this happens, the coil cannot absorb heat as well as it should. There are significant monetary benefits too. If you clean your filter or replace it, you can expect your energy consumption to drop by up to 15%. Not all filters are reusable. Check with your installer if yours need to be replaced instead. It’s recommended that you clean the filter up to every eight weeks in summer. You may need to do this more frequently if you have many pets in the house or conditions are dusty.
The Issue: Dirty Evaporator and Condenser Coils
The coils of an air conditioner tend to collect dirt over time. Keeping the filters clean will go a long way in preventing them from getting dirty, but will not prevent it from happening altogether. As discussed, dirty coils cannot absorb heat efficiently, but it also reduces the airflow of the system. Get a technician in to clean the coils once a year.
If the condenser coils are on the outside of the home, in dusty space surrounded by foliage, they can also become filthy. It’s not difficult to check this. You will instantly see if there is dirt collecting on the fins. Remove as much debris or foliage as you can from around the unit. You want to achieve good airflow around the entire condenser unit.
The Issue: Bent Coil Fins
If the fins on evaporator and condenser coils become bent (they are made from aluminium), they can block airflow. This is not a big issue to repair. You will be able to buy a tool (fin comb) that can return them to their original state.
Other issues to look out for:
- Clogged condensate drains. This can be addressed by passing a wire through the unit’s channels of the drain. The benefits are that the unit will be able to remove humidity efficiently. Excess moisture can stain carpets and walls.
- Gaps in window seals. Before summer hits, check the seal that is found between the room air conditioner unit and the frame of the window. You want to make sure it comes into contact with the metal case of the unit. You want to prevent cold air from escaping your home in summer. Unfortunately, moisture can weaken the seals over time.
- Winter storage. If you don’t use your central air conditioner during winter, it’s wise to cover it or store it. This will stop winter storms from damaging it with debris.
Should You Hire a Professional?
It’s advisable to hire a qualified air conditioner technician to carry out your summer maintenance. They will know what to look for, have the right tools and technology to fix them, and will give you advice on how to keep the system working efficiently. They will also have certification to sign off on your warranty to ensure the maintenance is logged.
Here are some of the other services a technician offers when they service their aircon:
- They will check that the refrigerant levels are correct and will use a detector to check for leaks
- They will remove refrigerant if needed (note, it is illegal to release it into the atmosphere)
- They will check for leakages in the seal ducts
- They will measure the airflow of the evaporator coil
- They will check the electric control sequence, inspect electrical terminals
- They will clean and secure connections and check the thermostat
- They will apply a non-conductive coating if you need it
- They will check the belts and oil motors.